Despite criticism of federal spending, some GOP Senate candidates accepted PPP loans

The Republican Senate field is crowded, elbows sharp. Candidates lash out at each other for not being Trump-y enough, part of the “establishment,” or willing to compromise. But her favorite punching bag is, unsurprisingly, the Biden administration.

With inflation at record levels and prices for consumer goods like groceries and gasoline rising, Republicans have no trouble making a familiar economic argument: Democrat-backed government “handouts” are flooding the market with money, and that money glut is raising prices for ordinary Americans .

“We need to get our spending under control and you can see that our spending is not under control by the inflation we are experiencing right now,” Mike Gibbons said at a recent campaign rally in Bellefontaine. “It’s clear and simple. The definition of inflation is too many dollars chasing too few goods. Well we have.”

But when funds were made available during the pandemic, Gibbons’ investment banking firm did not shy away. Brown, Gibbons, Lang & Co. received a just over $1.5 million loan under the Paycheck Protection Program in April 2020, according to data compiled by Project on Government Oversight (POGO). A total of 72 employees could be supported with this financing.

Speaking Wednesday in Hilliard at the opening of a new campaign office, Gibbons defended the decision, arguing PPP did not cause inflation.

“I do not have a problem with that. If everyone gets it, so do we,” Gibbons said. “You know, I wasn’t particularly actively trying to get it, but I have partners who said we should line up with everyone else and get as much PPP loan as we can because we’re not sure what the future will bring.”

Every candidate in the Republican field has criticized government spending during the Biden administration and made direct connections to its impact on broader economic trends like inflation or gas prices, but none have directly criticized PPP. Still, this program, created as part of the CARES Act signed into law during the Trump administration, is one of the most prominent examples of widespread, possibly non-binding, government support in recent memory.

According to the Pandemic Oversight Accountability Committee, direct payments to individuals – Pandemic Aid Checks – $803 billion total. The three federal unemployment improvementsanother stocking horse for the GOP, cost a combined $653 billion. PPP right in between, paying out $794 billion in loans, of which $664 billion was forgiven.

In terms of how Gibbons differentiates PPP spending from measures that have led to inflation, he claims that inflation may have been transient as the pandemic ebbed, but spending on measures like the bipartisan infrastructure package fueled rising prices.

And Gibbons wasn’t the only one who accepted help.

POGO data shows Senator Matt Dolan’s law firm received nearly $616,000 to support 33 employees. Dolan has happily left inflation and gas prices on the White House’s doorstep, but his criticism veers toward energy policy and is occasional but vague.”Spending out of control.”

For example, he takes a much more pragmatic view of the Infrastructure Act and argues in a press release that it “would bring jobs to our state, increase economic growth, increase regional competitiveness, and improve public safety for every Ohioan.”

Former Treasurer Josh Mandel also has a tangential connection to PPP funding. Payday loan company Schear Financial Services received just over $122,000 to support its eight employees. In his financial disclosure, Mandel lists himself as an advisor to the firm, earning $68,000.

Mandel’s criticism of the Biden administration was full-throated and ongoing. In January, he posted a photo with a cafe waitress taunting the president over improved unemployment benefits.

“Biden is using Melissa’s tax dollars to pay people to stay home, eat Cheetos, and play Call of Duty,” Mandel said.

Those benefits expired statewide more than four months ago, and Gov. Mike DeWine retired from the program even earlier by cutting benefits for Ohio residents nearly six months earlier. In other tweets, Mandel has tied the president to himself empty store shelvesexpensive Super Bowl parties and even the supply of Chick-fil-A sauces.

The Ohio Capital Journal reached out to Dolan and Mandel’s campaigns for comment. Nobody offered an answer.

But what is arguably the largest recipient of federal donations is no longer in the running. Despite ad cuts criticism of handouts of “Team Woke” and arguing that Biden “paid people to sit at home and watch Netflix,” Bernie Moreno took out more than $800,000 in PPP loans to shore up a Florida auto dealership. In addition, the former candidate has borrowed $5.3 million under the low-interest Main Street Business Loan program.

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